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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work-Life Balance

6 Ways to Survive Your First Day Back at the Office After an Amazing Vacation

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Ah, vacation. You just got back from a week of complete relaxation, when the only thing on your to-do list was to not do a thing. But now you’re back to reality and struggling to muster up the strength to turn on the computer, trudge through your inbox, and jump right back into your normal work routine.

Even if you didn’t actually fly across different time zones, we won’t judge you for being drained. Unfortunately, your office isn’t so forgiving—and everyone expects you to get back in the groove. (Were 10 AM Monday meetings always this painful?)

So, we’re giving you six tips to surviving that first day back without anyone knowing that you’re still fantasizing about the beach.

1. Make a Plan and Stick to It

Maybe to-do apps are your favorite, or maybe you prefer to schedule tasks in your calendar. Either way, create a list of items that must get done on your first day back.

When you’re struggling to focus and don’t know where to even start, this is a great way to stay on track and accomplish the bare minimum. If you can push back tasks to later in the week, do it.

2. Bring Signature Food From Your Trip Into the Office

We can all agree that nothing distracts an entire office from work like food does, so why not bring in some goodies from your trip to share? Not only will this give you an excuse to stray away from your assignments, but you’ll have a reason to spend your afternoon reminiscing about your favorite parts of vacation.

3. Listen to Music

Music is a great trick to create a positive environment, so help your mind out by playing your favorite motivational songs.

And, when your eyes begin to droop from your lack of sleep, you can just turn up the volume to help you through the mid-day slump.

Bonus: Having headphones in will also prevent co-workers from bombarding you with requests.

4. Start a Vacation Conversation

It’s no secret that people love to talk about themselves and their plans—today’s the day to get your co-workers chatting up a storm.

Turn to the person next to you and ask where his or her next vacation is. If one isn’t planned, move on to your next question: “Where would you love to go?” If they have no response, move on to the next victim (er, co-worker).

4. Make it a Long(er) Lunch

The best way to avoid doing work is to get out of the office, quite literally. Head to lunch and make it a little longer than you normally would. Invite your favorite co-workers, or just bring a book. If possible, try to find a place with outdoor seating. If you squint hard enough, you’ll feel like you’re still on vacation.

5. Plan Something After Work

Plan a get-together (happy hour, anyone?) with your friends for right after work. Why? This will give you something non-work related to look forward to during the day. Even when you’re unhappy about being back in your cubicle, you can get pumped about the fact that something exciting will be happening in just a few hours.

6. Eat Like a Local

I know your Instagram’s filled with vacation foodie photos right now. Rather than drooling over those, look for a restaurant that serves the local cuisine for lunch. If that’s not possible, at least be nice to yourself by getting something more exotic than usual. (No, Chipotle doesn’t count.)

Trust us, we know how tough it is to go from vacation mode to work mode. So we won’t judge you for giving yourself a relaxing first day back.